St Christopher’s school issues new statement

St Christopher’s school, due to close next year has today issued a statement beginning with this paragraph;

The school is pleased to announce that following a recent Ofsted inspection that took place over 2 and 3 December 2015, the care provision at St Christopher’s School has, subject to a Quality Assurance check, met all the requirements of its compliance notice and been provisionally upgraded to ‘requires improvement’.

The statement refers to an inspection of the children’s home in June this year, and continues;

In making their decision, Ofsted inspectors acknowledged that the school has made significant progress since the June inspection and has successfully implemented the agreed changes, which has resulted in an improvement of the care provision it offers.

The school would like to take this opportunity to place on record its disappointment about a recent article that appeared in the local media on 8 December.

I assume they mean the report on Points West, which I happened to see.

An inspection report from June is now available online, and the judgement is indeed “Inadequate” as reported on Points West;

 The overall experiences and progress of children and young people living in the home are … Inadequate

There are serious and/or widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and /or their care and experiences are poor and they are not making progress.

  how well children and young people are helped and protected …Inadequate

 the impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers…Inadequate

The reasons for the Inadequate rating include children being locked in their rooms, and the sanctioning by management of “the use of restrictive practices that deprive young people of their liberty”. The religious needs of one young person were not a priority and care staff had not taken him to his weekly place of worship.  Managers were not on duty at appropriate times, and records were poorly maintained.

The school is also criticised for a lack of transparency;

 On two occasions, whistleblowing concerns raised by staff in relation to poor practice were not shared with external safeguarding agencies including the Local Area Designated Officer as required.

The meaning of the judgement is explained at the end of the report;

A children’s home that is inadequate is providing services where there are widespread or serious failures that create or leave children and young people being harmed or at risk of harm or result in children looked after not having their welfare safeguarded and promoted.

Sadly many of these same problems have been described by parents at Steiner schools before, some of them were mentioned in the Ruskin Mill report last year, and seem to be a product of Steiner “methodology”.

Record keeping probably seems mundane compared to the spiritual matters Steiner devotees are concerned with. The report states that the management are well-qualified on paper, as though mystified as to what explanation there could be;

The manager has been registered with Ofsted since November 2013. She has the appropriate qualifications and experience. She is supported by three senior care managers and six house managers and a number of deputy managers. Despite this management tier, their effectiveness has limited impact on maintaining and developing good quality care at the home.

What is obvious to most people in charge of vulnerable young people does not seem so to Steiner followers; anthroposophy is a completely different worldview to that of most parents, and priorities can be different if you are mainly concerned with looking ahead to a future incarnation.

An upgrade to “requires improvement” is some kind of accomplishment I suppose, but not one that most schools would be proud of.

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4 comments

  1. Anne

    Well, now the truth is coming out and St Christopher’s are not doing themselves any favours by there desperate attempts to gloss over this. I wonder if the safeguarding issue I raised was passed to the relevant outside agency? Certainly I was made to feel like I was the one to blame for raising my concerns. The way it was dealt with didn’t feel professional at all, speaking as someone who has worked for Local Government before. The house manager where I worked spent most of her time in the office or outside smoking ( not very Steiner! ) Not long after I reported the safeguarding issue I was given a dressing down for apparently ‘being negative’ and ‘complaining about the food’ ( yes, I admit I pointed out that many of the children wouldn’t eat the food and were not being offered alternative choices ) I may have also complained about the 1 staff toilet in the building that leaked, was rarely cleaned ( unless I had the time to do it ) and was basically dirty. It doesn’t matter what qualifications someone has if they are institutionalised and not prepared to speak out and put other people before themselves.

    • Helen

      That is brilliant, thanks, Steve. It is very important and I hope all parents of children with special educational needs will read your summary.
      it is not just special schools, but all Steiner schools; Hereford Steiner Academy (state funded) even has a separate curative eurythmy room where children are taken one at a time for individual attention. Makes me shudder, and I still can’t believe it’s legal to do this to children, especially when you read their reasons.

      • Steve

        It was quite shocking to be honest when we read about the demon stuff. We obviously had found the Faculty Meetings quote some years ago but to associate a “backward child” (as Steiner so eloquently puts it) to having a demon in her is…well, shocking. Even for 1924.

        We know curative eurythmy is used on others (we read the revealing testimonial on your site), but we hadn’t written about eurythmy yet and didn’t want the article to be taken over with explaining what it is and how it’s used. Maybe for another time… :)

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